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Product management is the successful management of a product from start to market. A Product Manager must combine tech, design, and business skills to work with development teams, design teams, stakeholders, and users. If you’ve always wanted to learn product management but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn product management, free resources to take advantage of, and the careers that commonly use product management.
Product management is the process of managing a particular product, including physical products, software programs, and other digital products. A Product Manager oversees a product through the four stages of what product management calls “The Product LifeCycle:” introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. In product management, Product Managers are often referred to as the "CEO of the product."
Product management is at the intersection of tech, business, and design. Successful Product Managers must train in all three core product management skill sets: coding, user-driven design, and project management. Product management connects the different teams who develop a product. For example, a Product Manager might work simultaneously with a development team, a design team, a marketing team, stakeholders, and customers to manage the development and launch of a successful product.
The Product Manager is an advocate for the customer and serves as a liaison between the teams developing a product and the users of the product. User experience is a critical part of product management, so Product Managers are expected to incorporate user-driven design principles and conduct user reviews of their product during the development and after launch.
Read more about what product management is and why you should learn it.
Product management is a combination of tech, design, and business. You’ll need creativity, technical knowledge, and leadership skills to become a Product Manager. You will need to develop skills in all three to launch a new career in product management. However, the variety of skills creates a lot of flexibility in product management.
Coding skills are essential to an aspiring product manager. You don’t need to be an expert coder, but you will need to understand the process of building a digital product. As you probably already know, coding skills are highly desired by employers. You could even work as a coder while continuing the rest of your product management education.
Design skills are invaluable in many industries: design, digital design, fashion design, publishing, manufacturing, software development, art, marketing, web design, and animation. Product managers must know user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. Training in these includes learning programs like Adobe XD, Adobe Sketch, and Figma.
Project management skills are required for Product Managers. Developing project management skills is great for the job market: the Project Management Institute (PMI) estimates that more than 22 million new jobs will be created for people with project management skills by 2027. Project management skills are also highly versatile since Project Managers are in demand across industries.
Product management jobs grew by around 33% from 2017 to 2019. Companies from many industries recognize the need for employees with product management skills, including tech, finance, e-commerce, and brick-and-mortar stores. Every industry's need for digital products and platforms drives the demand for Product Managers. Some companies hiring the most product management employees include Walmart, Wayfair, Home Depot, and Amazon. For example, Walmart uses Product Managers to oversee their smartphone app, online ordering, self-checkout software, digital inventory tracking, and digital supply chain management tools.
Product management jobs are multiplying within the Finance sector. Like in other sectors, the primary reason for this growth is the need for financial institutions to develop digital products and platforms. For example, banks now offer customers digital account and finance management tools, such as smartphone apps and online banking. Some finance companies adding a significant number of Product Managers include JP Morgan Chase, Visa, Mastercard, Bank of America, and Capital One. Some companies, such as MasterCard, need employees with product management skills so badly that they’ve created recruitment and training programs for Product Managers.
The demand for digital platforms drives growth for Product Managers in other industries, including entertainment, healthcare, and the Internet of Things. For example, the explosion in streaming services from Netflix to Spotify has driven massive growth in product management jobs in the Entertainment industry. Digital appointment platforms, wearable healthcare technology, and digital recordkeeping are creating many product management jobs in healthcare.
Product management is a creative and rewarding career path. Current Product Managers report a much higher job satisfaction rate than most careers. Product management has been ranked Top 10 on Glassdoor’s Top 50 Best Jobs list for several years. Since product management is still developing as a field, there is a lot of flexibility in this career path.
According to a study by Product Management Insider, Product Manager jobs increased by over 33% from 2017 to 2019 and have only continued to grow. A few factors driving this growth include the need for digital products and platforms, increased competition in a global market, digital transformation of industries, and data-driven business decisions. Some industries experiencing the highest growth in product management jobs include finance, e-commerce, tech, entertainment, and healthcare. For example, the adoption of streaming services has driven the need for Product Managers in the entertainment industry. Likewise, the adoption of digital tools by financial institutions has created a demand for Product Managers in the finance sector.
Product management is also a lucrative career path: according to Glassdoor, the median base annual salary for a Product Manager is around $125,000. Product Managers make more than double the average annual salary of $52,000 across all occupations. Jobs in product management are growing at a rate of five times the national average. Some companies hiring the most Product Managers include Google, Bank of America, Airbnb, Capital One, Adobe, and Visa. Some companies, such as Uber and Slack, pay Product Managers an average salary of around $200,000.
Read more about why you should learn product management.
If you’ve decided to study product management, you’ll need to decide how you want to study product management: live or on-demand. Live classes, whether online or in-person, are the best option for anyone serious about a new career in product management. Live classes offer real-time interaction with your instructor and classmates, leading to higher engagement, mentorship, and networking opportunities. You’re also guaranteed to receive up-to-date information in a structured environment. Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me Tool is designed to help people find tech classes in their area, including live online product management courses.
On-demand courses are self-paced courses that students can take online, typically in the form of video lessons. There are a lot of online resources for learning product management, including free ones. These types of sources are great for total beginners who want to gain a better understanding of product management basics. However, there is no guarantee that the material will be updated. On-demand courses are great for seeing if product management is something you want to pursue.
Product management is made of many parts, including knowledge about product development and user-driven design. Noble Desktop offers a free seminar on development and design, including User Interface (UI) Design, on their YouTube channel. Free resources like these are a great way to explore your interest in product management.
Product management is currently ranked as a “Top 10 job in the U.S.” by Glassdoor. The average salary for a Product Manager is around $125,000 annually. Product management is also a skills-based job, meaning you can become a Product Manager without a bachelor’s degree.
On-demand courses and resources are a great way to learn the basics of product development. If you’d like to pursue product management more seriously, you should consider enrolling in a more structured product management course.
If you’re not quite ready to commit to product management, free online courses are a great way to see if it’s a career path that you’d like to explore. You can learn some of the foundations of product management before you fully commit. For example, Udemy offers a free tutorial, Fundamental Steps of Product Management which covers the basics of product management using a real-world case study. A few colleges, such as the University of Maryland College Park, offer free product management lectures on their website. Or, you might consider Product Crash Course, which delivers its free introductory product management course directly into your email inbox.
Read about more free product management videos and online tutorials.
Product management is still defined as a field, meaning there is no single path to becoming a Product Manager. Before you can begin working as a Product Manager, you will need to learn the core skill sets of product management: coding, user-driven design, and project management.
Because there are a lot of skills to learn, training in product management could be more expensive than other career paths. However, there are fast tracks that can speed up the training process. For example, bootcamps provide comprehensive training in typically much less time and can also save you money.
Combining bootcamps is a great way to reduce your learning time and costs. Another advantage of learning through bootcamps is taking all your classes from the same school. For example, Noble Desktop is a coding, design, and business school which offers bootcamps in all three core product management skills. You could receive certificates in software engineering, UX & UI design, and project management in less than a year.
Read about how difficult it is to learn product management.
If you haven’t quite decided that you want to become a Product Manager, you might want to explore similar career paths, such as a Project Manager, UX Designer, or Software Engineer. You might consider whether one of these career paths is a better fit for your goals since a Product Manager combines elements of each of these roles.
A Product Manager's most overlooked skillsets are soft skills, such as communication, leadership, interpersonal, time management, and motivation. A Product Manager must be a great communicator as they communicate with development teams, design teams, marketing teams, manufacturers, stakeholders, and customers. A Product Manager typically performs a lot of user research and must be able to communicate with users about the product.
If you’re not someone who wants to take a leadership role, you might consider an alternative career path, such as Software Engineering. A Software Engineer must have excellent technical skills. If you have stronger interpersonal skills than technical skills, you might want to choose product management, UX design, or project management. Technical skills are more required of a Product Manager than a Project Manager. Product management might be right for you if you combine both.
A UX Designer must have artistic creativity: something much less required for Project Managers and Software Engineers. UX Designers also need strong communication skills because they will be conducting user research. Figuring out which career path best fits your strength is a smart way to make your decision.
Becoming a Product Manager is more time-intensive than similar careers. For example, the existence of an entry-level professional certificate in project management creates a more clearly designed path for a Project Manager. The entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification is recommended for aspiring Product Managers. Product Managers will also need to develop skills in design and tech knowledge. The number of required skill sets makes product management more time intensive than these similar career paths.
Deciding the best way to learn product management will come down to how you want to use the skills you learn. If you’re planning to launch a new career as a Product Manager, your learning goals will differ from someone looking to add product management skills to their current job.
If you’re a beginner exploring an interest, introductory courses and resources are a great option. Many of these are free online, and they will allow exploring product management without cost or time commitments. If you want to develop a solid working knowledge of product management, a bootcamp is recommended. Bootcamps typically offer immersive and comprehensive training in topics geared toward improving your career or launching a new one.
If you’re already serious about a new product manager career, you’ll want to consider a Certificate program. Certificates and certifications are the gold standards in skills-based fields like product management. A Certificate demonstrates to employers that you’re qualified as a Product Manager and helps you get hired.
Since product management is a relatively new career, there is no single path to becoming a Product Manager. To become a Product Manager, you do not typically need a bachelor’s degree. You will need a mix of the three product management core skill sets: coding, user-driven design, and project management. Bootcamps in coding, UX design, and project management are a great way to acquire the knowledge you need to become a Product Manager.
Noble Desktop offers bootcamps in coding, design, and business live online and at its state-of-the-art campus in Midtown Manhattan. Since Noble Desktop offers bootcamps in all three core product management skills, it is an excellent choice for aspiring Product Managers. All of their courses have guaranteed small class sizes. Noble Desktop’s expert instructors teach a “micro-lecture” introducing a topic and then guide students through applying what they learned through hands-on, real-world projects. There is a “free retake” option on their courses, allowing students to retake the course free to refresh their knowledge or continue developing their skills.
Product Managers are required to put users first. Understanding user-driven design is critical for a Product Manager. Noble Desktop offers a UX & UI Design Certificate that provides comprehensive training in user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. Students in this project-based bootcamp master user-centered design essentials, conduct research and product testing, and digital product design. Students become experienced users of Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD. Students develop a professional portfolio and receive 1-on-1 job mentoring. Graduates earn a verifiable digital certificate which is shareable on Linkedin.
The successful development and launch of a product is a project. Product Managers are required to have highly-developed project management skills. Noble Desktop’s Project Management Bootcamp provides comprehensive training in project management principles, practices, and methodologies. Topics covered include the “Project LifeCycle,” risk management, resource management, budgeting, and project management terminology. This boot camp includes training in project management methodologies Waterfall, Critical Path, and Agile, including Scrum, Kasan, and Extreme Programming (XP). Graduates earn a Certificate in Project Management which is shareable on Linkedin.